Bud Valley, The Korean War, and the Battle Against Scurvy

My old man, Gilbert Valley. His dad’s name was Gilbert, so as a child he was Buddy, later Bud Valley. None of his three sons even have the middle, let alone, the first name of Gilbert. He said because he didn’t want any of us to get our ass kicked for having Gilbert as a name.

Gilbert and his son Bud Valley, my father.

My dad was a veteran, as a kid it seemed every man of a certain age had served. Gilbert Valley was in the Air Force during the Korean War. I’m not an expert, but it seems to me that, in many ways, The Korean War is the forgotten war. Yes, the TV show M*A*S*H was set in the Korean War, but it only incorporated historical events as a dramatic device.

On this Memorial Day weekend, here’s a famous Bud Valley story in our family. Bud took a merchant marine ship over to serve in South Korea (I believe. All of this is second hand as Bud didn’t discuss his war experience me. I was 8 when he died.) The food left a lot to be desired: no fruits, vegetables, nothing fresh of any kind.

When he was discharged and it was time to ship home, Bud was afraid he was going to get scurvy on the trip home. As funny as it may be to think about today, it was a legitimate concern at the time.

So Bud Valley left most of his personal belongings and toiletries behind. He packed the very minimum and filled the rest of his bag with fruits and vegetables. He lugged that heavy bag from his station in South Korea to the ship.

It turns out he didn’t take another merchant marine ship back home. He shipped out on a US military ship stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Bud had lugged that damn bag across South Korea for nothing.

We appropriately remember those who gave all on Memorial Day. War is hell, after all.

But even if you are fortunate enough to never see combat, to those in a supporting role, because of a lack of resources, communication, and planning war can also be just a simple pain in the ass sometimes. Service is a lot to ask of people on many different levels. Like they say, ‘Sometimes it’s the little things that wear you down.’

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